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The Latest: Edwards threatens veto if House budget passes

May 25, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Latest on Louisiana’s legislative tax debate (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is threatening to veto Louisiana’s state operating budget bill if it looks like the version crafted by House Republicans.

The Democratic governor Thursday repeated his description of the House-backed spending plan as a “non-starter.” But he went further, saying he would reject the document entirely if it arrived in the form it passed the majority-GOP House.

Edwards doesn’t expect the Senate’s version to look like the House-proposed plan. Senate Finance Chairman Eric LaFleur says senators have been told the governor would veto a budget that looks like the House version.

The House proposal would leave $206 million on the table, to hedge against its expectations income forecasts are too rosy. Edwards says that would force unnecessary, harmful cuts on health services, prisons and other programs.

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12:20 p.m.

Louisiana’s legislative leaders and Gov. John Bel Edwards agree: A special session on taxes will be needed to address a more than $1 billion budget gap expected to hit in mid-2018.

Republican lawmakers in the House have stymied nearly every bill proposed to raise revenue to offset the loss of temporary sales taxes that expire on June 30, 2018. Most tax bills must start in the House.

Edwards, Senate President John Alario and House Speaker Taylor Barras say they don’t expect tax hikes to pass that will close the shortfall. They say a special session is inevitable over the next year to deal with the problem.

Alario and Edwards say they’re disappointed a special session will be needed. Barras says House members are responding to anti-tax sentiment in their districts.

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9 a.m.

The leader of the Louisiana House says he doesn’t expect lawmakers to pass tax hikes this session to fill a looming, mid-2018 budget gap. Instead, Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras believes a special legislative session is inevitable to address the shortfall.

A more than $1 billion budget hole is projected when temporary sales taxes passed by the Legislature expire on June 30, 2018. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards wants lawmakers to pass tax measures to close the gap.

But Barras says tax hikes face heavy resistance from the public, which is why he says many House Republicans have been reticent to consider them this session.

The current legislative session that must end June 8 is the last regular session in which taxes can be considered before the 2018 revenue drop-off.

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